Sunday, 12 January 2014

To the Writing Cave, Batman!

First, I am VERY excited, because my novella Soul Mates comes out this Wednesday the 15th. And wow -- that cover has not become any less gorgeous, no matter how often I look at it. (A lot.) I've blogged about the story here, including an extract. I hope you enjoy it if you feel inspired to pick it up. (Don't expect it to be as long as the Angel books, though; it's very short! Think of it as a tasty snack.) 

On to other things...!

I recently held Q&A sessions on both Twitter and my Facebook author page. These were so much fun! There were some really great questions, both about writing and the Angel series. People are often surprised, I think, at some of the elements of the series that were originally unplanned -- such as Seb, and Mexico. Yeah, minor little things like that! If you'd like the full scoop, just check out that link to my FB page above; the whole Q&A session is on there.

Anyway, here's the thing: I held the Q&As in the first place partly because I love connecting with my readers -- if you follow me on Twitter or have liked my FB page, you'll know how often I'm around ("TOO OFTEN!" shout my editors) -- but also because I'm about to set off on an intensive journey and won't be as accessible for a while.

You see, I'm about to go into my writing cave.

Every writer's different. For me, though, a time always comes with a novel when the groundwork's complete and all that's left is to get your head down and WRITE.

I've reached that point with my WIP. It's the first of a new trilogy: another big, epic world (why do I keep doing this to myself? Why?). Much of the early work consisted of going for long walks, muttering aloud to myself; writing pages and pages about the characters; getting their names right; writing reams of material that was rubbish and I knew it -- but I was feeling my way into the story and there aren't any shortcuts for that.

Now, at last, I'm over 70K in. In terms of pure wordage, I'm about halfway through. (The finished book will probably only be a little longer than Angel -- I write long and then trim!) Despite the outstanding word count, though, much more than half the work has been done, because it's pretty much all straight in my head now. 

All that's left is to write it.

I'll confess something that may surprise you: the actual writing is my least favourite part. I love it, of course, but I find it SO HARD sometimes. Talking with other authors recently, I was surprised to find that I'm not alone in this. It seems to be pretty freakin' common, actually. You wouldn't believe the excuses we all find to stay away from our WIPs every day. (Being a writer basically means hanging out on Facebook and talking to other writers about how you're just about to start writing. Honest. Any second now.)

The truly fun parts, to me? Getting that amazing story idea. Thinking it through. The magic of characters first coming to life. And that breathtaking moment when you've finished the first draft and can start editing.

Oh, I'm an editing geek, I'll admit it. I find it endlessly involving and rewarding. Hours pass in minutes as I rewrite, trim, shape, hone. And yes, of course there are times in the initial writing where the words take wings and soar -- but for me, those aren't as common. Writing's the hard part; the payoff is finally having a draft in place you can play with.

Anyway, some writers can flit effortlessly between Twitter, Facebook and their imaginary worlds. I wish I were one, but I'm not. Social media is just too instantly rewarding, as opposed to the slow, brick-by-brick task of novel-building. All I want to do is keep hitting the 'refresh' button. (We need a 'refresh' button in real life, don't you think?)

Hence the retreat into my writing cave.

What does this mean, you ask? Well, I'll still be blogging every Sunday, and if you Tweet me or drop me a line on FB, I'll definitely answer when I can. But I won't be as visible as I was. I won't be randomly tweeting about my coffee addiction and my cat and how I'm still in my pyjamas at 2pm. (As I write this, it's 2.30 in the afternoon and yes, I'm still in my pyjamas.)

Instead, I'll be immersing myself totally in my story, from the moment I wake up every morning. I'll hide my smart phone from myself so I'm not tempted. (If I need to get really hard-core, I'll have my husband take it into work with him.) And I'll write word by word until I get it done. The real world will start to go dim around the edges; I'll have one foot in my story at all times. My long-suffering husband knows this phase well: it's the one where I gaze at him while he talks without taking in a single word.

And at the end of it...I'll have a draft in place. I can hardly wait.

I know I've been somewhat mysterious about my WIP. I wish I could Reveal All here -- believe me, I'm dying to talk about it! But the time will come, I promise.

Meanwhile, I'll leave you with this image of my main character. She's actually a French model; I saw her photo in a newspaper my husband was reading and practically ripped it out of his hands. Because it was HER, my main character, and I recognised her instantly, despite that awful jacket. In fact, I didn't even notice the jacket until later; I was too mesmerised by her expression. Her firm jaw. Her steady gaze. This picture's on my desk now.

Meet Amity:

So, if you miss my tweets or Facebook presence over these next few months, you'll know who to blame! But I think -- hope -- that her story's going to be worth any amount of time I have to spend in the writing cave. She's been excellent company so far.

See you next week!

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